Mathurin Moreau (1822-1912) is one of the most important French sculptors of the 19th century, born in a family of artists : his father Jean-Baptiste Moreau, as well as his brothers Hippolyte and Auguste are sculptors as well. Aged 21 in 1842, he won the second Prize of Rome, and began exhibiting at the Salon in 1848. Noticed on this occasion, he worked the following year for the great Val d'Osne Foundry .
His sculptures quickly became public monuments. With the Val d'Osne, Moreau presents a large fountain at the World’s Fair of 1855, which won a Gold Medal and seduced the city of Bordeaux. Thus, in 1857, it adorned the alleys of Tourny, and took the name of “Fountain of Tourny”. This impressive fountain today decorates the forecourt of the Quebec Parliament. In 1855, Queen Victoria also received as a gift the four-season statues of Mathurin Moreau, which still adorn the garden of Osborne House.
From his collaboration with the Val d'Osne until 1879, remarkable models of fountains, garden statues, candelabras, lampposts, etc. will emerge. His models adorn public space throughout France, as well as in Geneva, Liverpool, Peru and Buenos Aires.
The success of the Fountain of Tourny propelled him to the forefront of the national decorative arts scene, which led him to work with the goldsmith Christofle. Beautiful pieces of this collaboration, like the vase "The Education of Achilles" of 1867, are preserved in the Orsay Museum. Mathurin Moreau continues to win prizes at the Salons of 1859, 1861 and 1863, as well as at the World’s Fairs of 1867, 1878 and 1889.
In 1877, he was commissioned to realize the caryatids on the eastern side of the Paris Opera, and in 1878 he sculpted Oceania for the Orsay Trainstation, which still adorns the forecourt of this building now converted into a museum. In 1897, he was crowned with a Medal of Honor at the Salon.
If his statues of cast iron and bronze are better known, Moreau also carves marble, like Fileuse (1861), or Daphnis and Chloe. Indeed, the great sculptor produces many statuettes which are partly presented at the Salon des Artistes Français and sold on the Art Market.
Mathurin Moreau was also engaged, author of an essay about misery in 1851, and mayor of the 19th arrondissement of Paris from 1878 to his death.